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San Diego Experiencing Early But Steady Flu Activity And More Local News

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San Diego County health officials are urging the public to get a flu shot as confirmed cases rise more than three times the number at this point last year. Plus, Amador is one of six California counties without a physical community college. It also struggles to recruit mental health providers. But a small online learning program could offer a solution to both problems. And, the San Diego City Council is looking to change how the city selects its independent auditor.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Monday, October 21st I'm Priya Schreder and you're listening to San Diego news matters from K PBS coming up. County health officials are expecting flu cases to be on the rise this year and a scholarship program offers college degrees and training for residents of a rural California County. It really got me out and started my life over again. It gave me something to do for purpose. That and more San Diego new stories coming up.

Speaker 2: 00:31 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Priya. Sure. Either San Diego County health officials are encouraging the public to get their flu shot. KPBS health reporter Taren mento says more San Diego Ann's are coming down with the flu much earlier than last year. Lab results confirmed 300 people contracted the flu so far this season. That's more than three times the number of cases from this time last year and twice the three year average. Health officials are watching the trend closely but aren't alarmed. They say more people are just coming down with the flu earlier in the season. Cases traditionally surge from late fall to mid December, but each season varies. Flu vaccines are available through healthcare providers or at a County health clinic. Taryn mento KPBS news, it's been more than a year since the resignation of San Diego's independent auditor and still no replacement has been made. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the city council today will consider a change to the appointment process under the city charter. San Diego's mayor is responsible for nominating a city auditor who is then confirmed by the city council, but the auditor is also responsible for investigating the mayor and city staffers and issuing reports that expose uncomfortable truths about city operations. City Councilman Scott Sherman said at an audit committee meeting earlier this month, that's an inherent conflict of interest.

Speaker 3: 01:54 And so I'm bringing forth a couple of changes to, uh, the ballot, hopefully coming up in March to change how we do that and get it to where the Fox basically isn't being asked who's going to guard the henhouse.

Speaker 1: 02:07 German proposes having the city's audit committee nominate three candidates for city auditor with the city council. Then selecting the winner. Andrew Bowen KPBS news. The average price of gas in San Diego spiked at the end of September. Sarah Katz yanas tells us why gas prices began increasing last month after oil production facilities in Saudi Arabia were bombed by Yemeni drones. Miro COPEC is an SDSU marketing lecturer and cofounder of bottom line marketing. He says the price increases also due to the local refineries cutting back on the production of summer blend. Gasoline sale of winter blend begins November 1st he says that while these two factors created a spike in gas prices, they tend to go back down. Experts say there'll be down till about $4 a gallon in, uh, by Halloween. The question is, will they go down further? The average price of regular gas in San Diego been over $4 for three weeks. Now, Sarah cot Sianis KPBS news, less noise and less pollution. That's the idea behind a new ordinance in Cornado that bans the use of gasp leaf blowers. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman explains

Speaker 4: 03:16 [inaudible].

Speaker 5: 03:17 There's no denying it. Leaf blowers are noisy.

Speaker 4: 03:23 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 03:23 Cornetto city Councilman Whitney Benzie and propose the gas power blower band, which he says addresses pollution and noise. We live in, like I said, a small town and it can get kind of noisy or we've got helicopters, we've got airplanes, we've got a lot of cars. Those are our big issues. These are one of the, this is one of the small things that we can do to, to mitigate that, that sound and alternative to gas blowers are electric ones, which are much quieter. Enforcement of the ordinance would be based on complaints. Someone would call the police who could give offenders a warning or a a hundred dollars fine. Cornetto mayor Richard Bailey says, this is getting blown out of proportion. In my opinion. I think we have a much bigger priorities that we should be spending our time on. The gas powered band will come back before the council for final approval soon. It would go into effect in January of next year.

Speaker 4: 04:08 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 04:08 Matt Hoffman KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 04:12 It was an eventful school board meeting last week in Vista. The Vista school superintendent resigned as dozens of staff members came to protest school board spending KPBS education reporter Joe Hong was at the meeting and spoke with the board president about the district's finances

Speaker 6: 04:28 district superintendent Linda Kimball, formerly resigned Thursday after being placed on administrative leave last month, bill thous, president of the staff union said she was forced out for criticizing the board spending, but board president Rosemary Smithfield said Kimball and the board came to a settlement agreement for her resignation, including a buyout for $280,000

Speaker 7: 04:48 we're losing students. We have lots of money to cut and taking the student part and the academic part very seriously. We had wanted to go in one direction and we found that we weren't on the same page

Speaker 6: 05:04 in the coming year. Smithfield said she anticipates difficult cuts to staffing and programs. The school board scheduled a public meeting on November 4th to discuss budget cuts. Joe Hong K PBS news

Speaker 1: 05:16 for some people in rural California. Higher education seems out of reach. That's true in Amador County, Southeast of Sacramento where there is no community college or no public university. Our California dream collaboration is reporting this fall on solutions to some of the challenges facing the state in Amador County. A unique scholarship fund is now providing an educational stepping-stone for residents who want to work in mental health. Sammy Cola of cap radio reports about a dozen students trickle into amateur county's learning center and take a seat for orientation. They range in age from early twenties to late fifties all but one are women. Bailey and I'm, this

Speaker 7: 05:58 is my last class for this. Again, Becka, I have four kids, eight and under. My name's Tiffany. To be honest with you, in my life, I've been in active addiction.

Speaker 8: 06:09 They're all after the same thing. A credential in human services which can open the door to entry level jobs in health and social work. For the last five years, amateur County has covered tuition for people who want to pursue this specialty. They take courses online through coastline community college in orange County. The scholarship board looks for residents with a personal tie to mental illness or substance abuse.

Speaker 7: 06:33 We have a great need in Amador County for trained people who can deal with the issues that we have here.

Speaker 8: 06:42 Mac Newell is with the Amador community college foundation, the nonprofit that runs the learning center. She says the goal is to create a pipeline of people with lived experience to fill gaps in the county's health workforce. They've given out 44 scholarships so far. About a third of students have graduated or already working in the field. Six more will graduate this fall with either certificates or associates degrees in human services.

Speaker 7: 07:06 The scholarship program trains our next generation of social workers and human services experts, but it's also pulling from the community that needs those resources.

Speaker 8: 07:19 When Tammy Montgomery heard about this option in 2017 she was struggling with depression and PTSD. She lost three children in a car accident a decade ago, and then her home burned down in the Butte fire of 2015

Speaker 9: 07:33 we lost even the baby albums, the pitchers, everything. So it was, it was really bad at the time and I did not deal with it well.

Speaker 8: 07:42 So she moved to Amador and decided to go back to school at age 56 it was her first class in 25 years and even filling out the online application was a struggle.

Speaker 9: 07:52 She came over and she goes, you're done. And I'm like, I don't know how to turn the computer on.

Speaker 8: 07:56 After a year of help from the community college foundation, Montgomery became the student rep on the nonprofits board and began tutoring other learners. She got her human services certificate and we'll finish her associates degree this spring and then just scroll up. On our recent evening at the center, she was huddled over a laptop showing a new student how to install a grammar app for essay. Right.

Speaker 9: 08:18 Do you need the book market and eat right here? Okay.

Speaker 8: 08:21 Amador is one of a handful of counties leveraging a special pot of state mental health dollars to create what's known as peer support workers with a certificate. They can work with addiction recovery centers, clinics, or other agencies. The hope is for these workers to make a small dent in a mental health worker shortage that's worse in rural California, but unlicensed community workers alone can't solve the problem. Janet Kaufman is a health policy expert at UC San Francisco. Having folks in the system with lived experience who really understand what it's like is very, but you know, they don't have extensive training in psychotherapy. What I would say is I think we need to make investments in the behavioral health workforce up and down the line. Still in rural communities like Amador, peer support training creates a pathway for people with limited options. Tammy Montgomery is volunteering with a hospice group. She goes to schools to work with grieving children. It really got me out and started my life over again. It gave me something to do for purpose. California is one of only two States in the country that doesn't have a standard certification process for peer support workers in mental health. Governor Gavin Newsome just vetoed a bill that would have expanded this workforce, citing funding concerns. Sammy K Yola cap radio news.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.